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“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible”. “Advertising king” David Ogilvy’s Business Rules

"The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible". "Advertising king" David Ogilvy's Business Rules
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Surprisingly, the thoughts of David Ogilvy, founder of advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather and Ogilvy PR, who came up with his ingenious marketing strategies and approaches to advertising, are still valid 70 years later.

The secret of this popularity lies in the special flair that made the unsuccessful copywriter “the most famous magician of the modern advertising industry”, according to Time magazine. The magic introduced into advertising with the light hand of Ogilvy makes it effective to this day.




The largest advertising specialist was born near London in 1911. The family, which brought up five children, belonged to the old Scottish family. Independent people with a wide soul and an excellent sense of humor – this is how the Scots positioned themselves.
Openness and easy disposition contributed to the fact that David Ogilvy, having studied a little in Edinburgh, and then in Oxford, began to work without a full education. He decided that the diploma was nothing more than a formality.

David Ogilvy has always considered his most important achievement to be experience. “I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience,” he once said. “Some of the announcements I’ve made have really come out of real experiences in my life and have somehow become powerful and compelling”.

The advertising king in conversations and numerous interviews specifically emphasized the importance of experience and observation of people as opposed to academic knowledge: “I do not know the rules of grammar. If you are trying to convince people to make or buy something, you must use the language they speak and think every day”.

David Ogilvy has been looking for himself for a very long time. First, he cooked food for the dogs of guests in one of the Parisian restaurants, mastered the profession of a culinary specialist and rose to the rank of chef, later he returned to Britain and started selling Aga ovens. This work fascinated him in an amazing way.

Ogilvy had a notebook in which he, with the scrupulousness of a student, wrote all his observations about clients. He drew attention to the fact that people trusted him more and more willingly bought goods when he was wearing a fashionable hat, a clean shirt, when his hair was neat, and his speech was soft and literate. So David found a gold mine in the profession – the opportunity to earn more.




All of David’s observations were useful to him when he took up his first advertising campaign, which had the effect of an exploding bomb. So what did Ogilvie have at the time? 40 years of searching for yourself, $30,000 from customers, a promise not to interfere with the creative process of finding ideas for the Hathaway men’s shirt brand, and a tattered notebook with his notes.

What is David doing? He comes up with a legend about a certain Russian émigré Baron Georgy Wrangel and places a photo of the latter in various newspapers and magazines. A courageous and at the same time elegant handsome baron in a perfectly snow-white Hathaway shirt is engaged in his “baronial” affairs in photographs: he takes measurements at a tailor, examines an elephant’s tusk, plays a musical instrument, draws something on a blackboard, dismantles a gun. The real Captain America of the 50s, a symbol of courage and elegance.

To make him more mysterious, Ogilvy puts on Baron Wrangel a rough leather bandage on his right eye – let the readers themselves figure out in which battle this gentleman was injured. Needless to say, shirt sales have skyrocketed.

Later, under the photo of the baron, there were no longer any advertising texts about Hathaway men’s shirts, the brand became recognizable in America. Ogilvy also linked the success of his advertising campaign to his personal interest in the product.

“Every time I wrote an unsuccessful script for an advertising campaign, the point was that the product did not arouse any interest in me,” he later describes his experience in his book On Advertising.

Later, David Ogilvy discussed why customers choose this or that brand: “Take whiskey, for example. Why do some people choose Jack Daniel’s, while others choose Old Grand-Dad or E.H. Taylor? Did they try all three varieties and compare the taste? Do not make me laugh.

In fact, all three of these brands have three different images that affect different segments of the consumer audience. People don’t choose whiskey, they choose an image. Brand image – that’s what 90% should sell to the consumer of whiskey”.




“Big ideas are usually simple ideas”.

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible”.

“The creative process requires more than the mind can give. The most original thoughts cannot even be conveyed in words. To do this, you need to be able to grope for experimental ideas, governed by intuitive guesses and inspired consciousness”.

“Working with amateurs demoralizes professionals”.

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants”.

“Never create an ad that you don’t want your family to see. You wouldn’t lie to your own wife. Don’t lie to mine either”.

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